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Rutland takes third place in rugby tournament

A scrum down between Bennington (l) and Rutland (r) in the Roosters second match of the day, which resulted in a Bennington victory.

WEST RUTLAND - The Framingham Exiles Rugby Club walked away with the trophy to the fifth annual Marble Valley Invitational (MVI), a tournament hosted by Rutland Roosters Rugby Club last Saturday, May 4, in West Rutland.

At the fifth installment of the MVI the six teams from Framingham, MA, Bennington, Vt., Keene, NH, Utica, NY, Ludlow, Vt., and Rutland, Vt. matched up against one another for a full day of rugby from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"I think it was the best turnout we've had yet," said Matt "Beast" Pennington, the president of the Rutland Roosters. "I think we did well. Obviously not the result you'd want, but it's a credit to everyone there. There were no blowouts. It was balanced all day, which is rare when you get that many teams together," he said. "You never know if there is going to be a ringer, but we were all on even footing."

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Eventual tournament winners, Framingham (black and red) were aggressive in attack, and strong in defense against all challengers on the day.

Rutland came out strong against Black River in a shut out victory of 12-0 with rookie Charles Whittemore scoring his first try and a crash in the second half resulting in Keith "Crazy" Duncan putting in the second try.

Their second match pitted the Roosters against Bennington Battle, the reigning MVI champions. Evenly matched, the game went scoreless until just before the end of the first half when Bennington capitalized on a turnover by Rutland within their own 22-meter line and Cameron Bundy touched it down to bring the score to 5-0. Despite a few successful phases of play and relentless pressure from the Rutland, Bennington was able to hold them scoreless, and forcing the Roosters into third place.

Bennington went on to beat Black River 18-5 in their second game, advancing them to the championship match. "I thought we did well. It was a lot of hard rugby. Our back line was as dangerous as ever and we felt strong against all the teams. It was just plain good physical rugby," said Bennington vice president and hooker Josh Bull on their overall performance.

Meanwhile, the Framingham Exiles defeated Monadnock 15-5 in their first match and beat Utica 24-7 to advance them to the finals against Bennington. Under 30 minutes after their win over Utica the Exiles took the field again against Bennington and handed them a defeat as well to the tune of 13-7.

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Tournament usuals, Monadnock (white, green and purple) had a good showing against a Utica team that had reached the final match last year.

After the final match, teams met up at Rutland's Griffin Publick House where man-of-the-match awards were given out to one player from each team who performed exemplary throughout the day.

Freshman Castleton State College rugby player Nate Dupras, who just last year learned to play rugby with the Roosters, was recognized by his Rutland teammates for his role at prop. "I thought it was cool to come out and play with the guys who taught me how to play," said Dupras. "I got to show them how much I improved."

Co-founder of the MVI Thomas Edwards was pleased with the how the tradition of the tournament was moving forward. Citing good weather, a nice crowd of supporters, enthusiastic teams and overall good sportsmanship, Edwards described Saturday's rugby day as "a gentleman's afternoon."

Photos by Jamie Baker Photography

Tagged: Rutland Rugby, Marble Valley Rugby Invitational, Rutland Roosters RFC, Framingham Exlies RFC, Monadnock Wolfpack RFC, Bennington Battle RFC, Black River RFC, Utica RFC